The newest version of Microsoft Office has hit the shelves, but this time with a bit of a twist. Office is now available for both outright purchase or for monthly/yearly rental.
Buying the personal Home version outright will cost a user $140 which includes all of the usual goodies therein (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote). The full business version will cost $220.
Rental of the Home version will cost just $10 per month or $100 for a full year of access.
Where it seems to get interesting is that from what we’ve read on Microsoft’s site, it seems that the rental version boasts the most perks. Renting Office 365 gives the user permission to install it on up to 5 devices simultaneously. This includes PCs, Macs, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones. Upgrades to new versions of Office will not incur any further costs. When working on a computer without Office installed, a temporary version of its programs can be streamed to said computer, allowing the user access to their Office profile for a limited time. Not only that, but any PC with Windows 7 or later that does not have Office installed will still be able to read and open Office documents without streaming the whole Office suite.
On top of all of this the subscription also supplies 20GB of SkyDrive space for cloud storage and 60 minutes of free international Skype calls per month. This allows users on Skype to call the standard telephone of someone overseas, meaning that the other person doesn’t have to have Skype for you to both enjoy free long-distance conversations.
The new Office, revolving around the subscription system, has a new focus on cloud storage. SkyDrive is much easier to use, just select it as an option after clicking “Save As…” in the menu and from then on cloud storage will be the default option for that particular file. Every time you then save or edit said file it will be updated across all 5 of your synced devices.
Of course this all requires a Microsoft account, but signing up is free and many people already have one without realizing. Xbox Live accounts, Outlook accounts, Skype accounts and old Windows Live messenger accounts should all hopefully pass as a Microsoft Account.
Continuing on the new online/cloud focus file sharing, shared meetings and collaborative projects all now have greater support.
If you’d like to know more about the specifics, you can check out what’s new about Microsoft Office on the Home Page
We really like the idea of a subscription-based Office service, although we’re still not too clear on what the outright purchase version offers. We couldn’t spot anything on Microsoft’s site that made it 100% clear whether or not all of the cloud-based, 5-device services were only for subscribers or for outright purchasers too. We’d definitely like it to be both, but it’s possible that Microsoft would offer all of the best bits to subscribers as it moves forward in to its new ecosystem-based, multi-platform business model.